SYDNEY, Australia — Swimming a few laps of the pool is tough enough. Imagine doing it without hands or feet.
For U.S. Paralympian Melanie Benn, it has become just another challenge to be conquered.
Despite having both arms amputated below the elbow and both legs amputated below the knee after contracting meningococcemia, a rare bacterial infection, Benn chose swimming as her No. 1 sport.
And now, about 12 months after starting competitive swimming, she has already picked up a silver medal in the 200-meter freestyle relay at the Sydney Paralympics.
"Hey, just being here is something I never expected," she said. "Getting a silver medal is a bonus."
Benn, 23, was like any college freshman at Humboldt State in Northern California until she developed the rare bacterial infection.
"It was devastating . . . I was 18," Benn said Wednesday while taking a breather from training at the Sydney International Aquatic Center, where the Olympics were also staged last month.